Cowardly 1922 slaying of an MP Sir Henry Wilson who was caricatured by his terrorist killers

News Letter editorial on Thursday June 23 2022:

By Editorial
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 9:38 am
Updated Friday, 24th June 2022, 2:47 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The murder of an MP 100 years ago is of little consequence to most people today.

After all, the world seems to us to have been a much more violent place a century ago — and in many respects it was so, with wars much more prevalent.

In 1922, one of the worst wars of all had just ended a few years earlier, the Great War (not known as World War One because World War Two was still almost two decades into the future).

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There was also war in Ireland, first over independence, and then a civil war.

Thus Sir Henry Wilson MP is not a well known figure in the 21st century.

And yet his murder was a terrible event, as people realised at the time, and as people who read of it today will realise (such as in our recent account of the crime, by the historian Lord Lexden — the web version of this editorial will link to that story, see below).

Sir Henry was caricatured by his enemies as a violent, war mongering Brit. Unionists politicians are always caricatured as such when Irish terrorists decide they are worth murdering. In fact Sir Henry was a brilliant military man but also such a thoughtful figure that he was greatly respected by the then prime minister David Lloyd George — although the men ultimately fell out bitterly over Irish policy.

The murder of Sir Henry was one of various murders of MPs by Irish terrorists — others including the Second World War hero Airey Neave, the Enfield MP Sir Anthony Berry, and the South Belfast MP Robert Bradford and the Eastbourne MP Ian Gow.

These were heinous crimes, which sparked outrage when they happened, although sometimes perhaps seeming not to attract quite the level of contempt that more recent heinous murders of Jo Cox MP and David Amess MP have done.

All such killings were cowardly assaults on democracy.